WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio - Senior Master Sgt. Bruce Haskin had some serious advice to bestow on friends and family after receiving the Purple Heart.
“The threat of imminent death was the way many of us felt in Bagram that day. It brings a new perspective and new prioritization in life,” he said at a presentation ceremony Feb. 4.
A superintendent with the 88th Medical Support Squadron, Haskin received the medal from Col. Christian Lyons, 88th Medical Group commander, during a commander’s call livestreamed from Wright-Patterson Medical Clinic.
“He sustained injuries that sent him to Germany, where he received treatment and he recovered and he fought to get back with his Airmen,” Lyons said. “He did return to his deployment, and I believe it’s a testament to the Airmen medics we have out there that were dedicated to the mission with trusted care – no matter where we’re called to do it.”
On Dec. 11, 2019, Haskin was wounded during a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device attack at Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan, and subsequently spent time recovering from a traumatic brain injury and severe tinnitus at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany.
“When you believe you’re not going to have another opportunity to have another day and have another phone call, give your family another hug, and you do make it through, it gives you a new lease on life,” he said. “Military medics and support personnel, you are the reason that people like me get to be here today with my family, instead of my wife receiving a neatly folded American flag as taps is played.”
Haskin was joined at the Purple Heart presentation by his father, Retired Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Steve Haskin; mother, Brenda; wife, Mary; and their three children – Austin, 9; Katherine, 7; and Samuel, 5.
After the attack, his support network extended beyond immediate family and allowed him to “get through challenging times,” Haskin said.
“There were a lot of us at Bagram, especially the medical logistics personnel at that time. (We) were truly a family,” he added. “They supported me as much as I supported them. Having that family and that closeness of working together as a team certainly helped in my recovery and made a tremendous impact on me getting out of there in good shape.”
The Purple Heart recipient emphasized the need for service members to take care of their mental health, too.
“As leaders or as followers, we need to know when to take a break,” he said. “If we are not all right, then we are going to have challenges with doing the mission. It is OK to stop, take a break, take a knee and get some help, if you need it. I’m truly living life and not just being alive.
“We have amazing professionals in the mental health community that have given me lots of tools and ways to cope and work through stress and challenges that come after a combat deployment and getting hurt.”